The Jurist Giuseppe Arcimboldo Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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We won't delve into the life of the artist. However, we'll focus on the piece of art known as The Jurist. The main focus will be on the theme and where it's currently located.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter. His given name was Giuseppe Arcimboldi. One of his most famous pieces is The Jurist, created in 1562. It's located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. The painting is oil on an oak panel and is 27×38 inches in size. It's a portrait of a man who's seated with an ermine-lined robe with wavy black hair and wearing gold-framed glasses. Added to the painting are four live blackbirds with a disc at each end of their beaks. The scene is set on a stage with a person dressed as an attorney at a podium.

In an article carried by the Seattle Times, it was explained that "The jurist is in court, representing his client, who happens to be swallowed up in his own paperwork. He offers the defense he's employed to deliver fiery arguments against drowning and burning. But the judge has a Doberman instead of a gavel. He'll probably eat the accused." The setting is clearly a legal case with several different aspects and characters. Jurists were seen as "bird-headed figures with the bodies of men, birds or other animals." A reference to the painting in Vienna states that they are "rendered as humanistic allegories."

The theme is representative of justice. The image is mentioned in "The Artist and the Book in the Italian Renaissance" by F. W. Kent: "the painting was designed to bring out the contrast between the two worlds of art and law." As portrayed by Arcimboldo, the theme is one of justice in a legal case where it's clear that there's a clear distinction between what law is intended for and what justice (especially in its broadest sense) can provide or does provide. The idea of the image is clearly related to the legal field, but in a way that would appeal to its viewers.

Arcimboldo made it to prove his skills and knowledge as an artist. This piece of artwork was praised for its realistic look and its ability to depict the image of justice. The painting was also admired for being a good example of the artist's skills in detail and representation of justice. It was seen as his best work and one of the most admired paintings from the Renaissance. Many different elements contribute to the theme. At first glance, the painting may seem quite random, but it is quite detailed and has a lot of layers.

The Jurist in Detail Giuseppe Arcimboldo